Teaching Comparative Local History: Upper Mississippi River Towns
Intended to engage students in a comparative look at local history in two upper Mississippi river towns (Winona, Minnesota and Dubuque, Iowa), this paper describes the computer-assisted component of an upper-level American Studies course. With emphasis on the 19th century, students examine the transition made by the United States from a traditional, rural, agricultural society to a modern, industrial, urban society. Using the computer-assisted instructional component, Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), students rework data imaginatively so that insights, relationships, and patterns emerge from the data that form the basis for interpreting life and behavior in river towns during a period of dynamic change. Basic concepts and tasks include building and using an SPSS file; classification of quantified data; hypothesis formulation and testing; and the use of descriptive statistics in ways that improve reports and papers. Required texts and materials for the course are listed and the complete syllabus for the American Studies course entitled "American Studies: Modernization and Community" is appended. (LH)
Crozier, W.L. Teaching Comparative Local History: Upper Mississippi River Towns.